Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/450

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treatment makes these relations of the sexes difficult to change; since chronic ill-usage produces physical inferiority, and physical inferiority tends to exclude those feelings which might check ill-usage. Very generally among the lower races the females are even more unattractive in aspect than the males. It is remarked of the Puttooahs, whose men are diminutive and whose women are still more so, that "the men are far from being handsome, but the palm of ugliness must he awarded to the women. The latter are hard-worked and apparently ill-fed." Again, of the inhabitants of the Corea, Gutzlaff says: "The females are very ugly, while the male sex is one of the best formed of Asia. . . . women are treated like beasts of burden; wives may be divorced under the slightest pretense." And for the kindred contrast habitually found, a kindred cause may habitually be assigned; the antithetical cases furnished by such uncivilized peoples as the Calmucks and Kirghiz, whose women, less hardly used, are better looking, yielding additional evidence.

We must not, however, conclude, as at first sight seems proper, that this low status of women among the rudest peoples is caused by a callous selfishness existing in the males and not equally present in the females. When we learn that where torture of enemies is the custom, the women outdo the men—when we read of the cruelties perpetrated by the two female Dyak chiefs described by Rajah Brooke, or of the horrible deeds which Winwood Reade narrates of a bloodthirsty African queen—we are shown that it is not lack of will but lack of power which prevents primitive women from displaying natures equally brutal with those of primitive men. A savageness common to the two necessarily works out the results we see under the conditions. Let us look at these results more closely.

Certain anomalies may first be noticed. Even among the rudest men, whose ordinary behavior to their women is of the worst, predominance of women is not unknown. Snow says of the Fuegians that he has "seen one of the oldest women exercising authority over the rest of her people;" and Mitchell says of the Australians that old men and even old women exercise great authority. Then we have the fact that among various peoples who hold their women in degraded positions, there nevertheless occur female rulers; as among the Batta people in Sumatra, as in Madagascar, and as in the above-named African kingdom. Possibly this anomaly results from the system of descent in the female line. For though, under that system, property and power usually devolve upon a sister's male children, yet as, occasionally, there is only one sister, and she has no male children, the elevation of a daughter may sometimes result. Even as I write, I find, on looking into the evidence, a significant example. Describing the Haidahs of the Pacific States, Bancroft says: "Among nearly all of them rank is nominally hereditary, for the most part by the female line. . . . Females often possess the right of chieftainship."